LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) - Hot on the heels of CNN's presidential Democratic debate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the candidates made their way to a ballroom at the Paris Hotel on Las Vegas's famed Strip for the Clark County Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner.
Billed by Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley as the "biggest event in Clark County Democratic party history," candidates took to the stage one by one to address an electric crowd of 2,200 Nevada Democrats, including some 80% of Clark County's precinct captains for the January 19 caucus.
As a birthday gift, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson spoke first and used his Western credentials as a way of relating to the Nevadans, the first Western voters of the primary and caucus season. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich chose an issue close to Nevada's heart, touting his record of voting against turning nearby Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste site.
Few eyebrows were raised when Senator Barack Obama of Illinois went after frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. He took several thinly veiled shots at his main rival saying, "Telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of what they need to hear just won't do. Poll testing our position because we're afraid of what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do."
Unfazed, Clinton instead attacked Republicans saying the "stakes are higher than they've ever been before." The crowd responded with her emerging slogan "Turn up the heat!" when she asked them what they would do to Republicans on issues like healthcare, education and global warming. The loudest cheers of the evening were reserved for Senator Clinton, likely a reflection of Wednesday's CNN/Opinion Research poll showing that 51% of likely Democratic caucus goers in Nevada would vote for Clinton.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards also stayed away from taking jabs at Democratic rivals, setting his sights on the Bush administration and saying that, like in his trial lawyer days, as president he will fight for the disenfranchised against corporate interests.
Predicting that the next president would literally have to go to work on Inauguration Day, Delaware Senator Joe Biden reminded diners of his lengthy foreign policy experience and time in the Senate as arguments that he might not have as much of a learning curve as his opponents. He added that during the ongoing unrest in Pakistan, he talked with President Pervez Musharraf and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto before they talked to President Bush.
The zinger of the night may have gone to the other veteran senator, Chris Dodd of Connecticut – "I'm a late bloomer in the father business. I have a six year old and a two year old. In fact I'm the only Democratic candidate that gets mail from AARP and diaper services." Dodd invoked family as a top priority everyone shares and one of the main reasons he's running for president.
In contrast to last Saturday's Jefferson Jackson dinner in Iowa, candidates were kept to their allotted time with tactics reminiscent of an awards show – go too long and we will drown you out with music, as former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel found out the hard way.
– CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt
Obama has nothing left to do but go after Hillary. He has nothing to say.
One thing i like about Hillary is that she will fight and she will win.
Turn up the heat...yea, that's a good slogan for global warming....
The desperation is beginning to show in Obama and Edwards. They are swinging and bantering but not connecting. Kind of pathetic, HUH.
Hillary handily owned the night. The invincible, indefatiguable and inevitable candidate had her nap, was sufficiently hydrated and came prepared to go "all in" with her royal flush and flair, not to mention a "full house" in her favor and "straight" delivery of those answers.
Bill Clinton needs to pick up the pace and get his girl some pearls and diamonds. She deserves them.
GO HILLARY! now the good ole boys are really scared and with good good reason...
CLINTON DEF WON THIS DEBATE AND OBAMA HAD THE WORST NIGHT OF ALL, WE SAW JUST HOW INEXPERIENCED HE IS NEXT TO HILLARY
It amuses me to see how Hillary is continually attacked. I am not surprised that considering her experience, she can hold her own and continue to prove that she is the most qualified person (not just because she's a woman) to be president. And what an awesome president she will be. I can hardly wait.
I am getting very tired, very quickyly, of Barak Obama's childish attitude. I am a loyal Dem and will certainly vote for the Dem nominee, but Obama is showing me less and less in the way of leadership everytime he speaks. He is convincing me more and more to vote for Senator Clinton
He has plenty to say and said it well last night. It's Hillary whose words are as empty as her pants suit. She's running to get elected, not to lead us and to bring change. – just to win the election and that does a disservice to all.
He is the only candidate with all of the qualities necessary to heal this wounded country.
I refuse to go back to the Clinton years when there is such a better choice in front of us.
To all you real Democrats, I appeal to you once more to reject the falsehood and falsity that Hillary is not electable if she wins the nomination. Republicans are making these claims, and thus tainting the polls in Iowa and other places to make the race closer that it truly is, by giving some of you out there hope that Obama could win a general election.
I am a black man and I live in the south, and I know for certain that if Obama is nominated by our party, this coming election would be a sure win for Republicans. Obama will not and can never win any southern state in a general election. We Democrats have a better chance with Hillary Clinton. As you can see, Republicans are afraid of her and this is the reason why they don't want her to win the nomination. Let us all unite behind Hillary and take back the WhiteHouse.
Nice reporting on the event – or not. What exactly did Gravel say? What did Kucinich day? Why do you insist on deciding FOR US what we should hear from each candidate?
I thought that news media was supposed to report all of the news, not some biased Clinton-bought coverage that only has part of the story.
CNN should be ashamed of itself for not laying down the ground rules at the beginning and not stopping booing of Dem candidates. Also, the post debate analysis stacked with Clintonistas was black eye. I hope you get your act together, but you've lost me as viewer.
This is the first debate I've watched for this upcoming election. Joe Biden is now my choice for the nomination. John Edwards was effective in making his point that Hillary is too much of an insider; too invested in protecting the status quo. The media is doing a great disservice to the public by limiting coverage this early in the race to only the current frontrunners.
Senator Obama has demonstrated the ability to lead with clear and definitive plans even when the topic may not be glamorous nor the solution easy. That's one thing I've always respected about him: he's the same person now that he was before he started running.
I will not be voting for Hillary in the primary. Not because she's a woman, not because of her negative numbers and not because she's seen as being "unelectable". I won't vote for her because there are other candidates whose views align more closely with mine. What a novel idea, huh? Although I will say that I find her to be a bit strident and calculating. Now I just have to decide between Kucinich, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and Obama. (Sorry, Richardson doesn't make the cut either.)
The debate format appeared biased in favor of Clinton. CNN only uses polls by Opinion Research whos founder heavily endorses Hillary. I'm about done with CNN. Since when is it acceptable for a candidate to never give a straight answer and news media claim bashing on anyone who insists that she does? This is getting just too ridiculous and unbelievable for me. With a nation of fools voting, we are doomed!
Until now only white men have been elected to the highest office of the land. Whether you like it of not Obama, Hillary and Richardson are playing in a good all white boy game. They are shaking things up and America is doing a lot of growing up very fast. After the last 6+ years of the most mediocre administration in the history of our country I once again feel proud to be an American. The chance of having a woman president looks more and more like a possibility and that it’s a great thing for America. It’s going to take a lot to reverse the damage done by the moron in the Whitehouse and his cronies. Hillary as well as the rest of the men in the Democrat field make me proud to be an American and are bringing hope no only to me but to millions of Americans. Last night was a great demonstration of real democracy. We will continue to see history in the making and hopefully we can soon say MADAM PRESIDENT!!!!
I think CLINTON/BIDEN 08 sounds great!!!
Hillary is the only candidate that has run this country before, and every single one of them keep referring back to the Clinton Administration aand everything positive that came out of it...my advice lets do away with the middle men and put the woman back in charge that had this mess straightened out in the 1990's! The first to realize where health care was headed, and then she organized SCHIP, the first in history to balance the budget and give us trillions in surplus, she had us a solvent Social Security until 2055 and most importantly she was the first to go against the grain in Washington, then get beat down for it and come back stronger than ever...not only once as a senator, but twice, and now as a presidential candidate in a huge lead! Hillary can win this and Hillary's policies and track record is why she is winning and is going to win!
She deserves this!
I think has the best "main stream ideas of the bunch. You can't be everything to everyone. If she would take biden as a running mate , game over Demo's win.
I am not voting for Hillary no matter what. I will do all I can to stop her from becoming president including voting for the GOP.
This is not a right wing conspiracy, I want someone who is going to do good for all Americans not just democrats.
She talks about change this and that but will only change what GWB has done and will do nothing to change the way our political system works and that is what should be the most important issue to all Americans.
Partisan politics hurts all of us.
Obama demonstrated better policies, better vision, and better leadership than Clinton. It's funny that people said he didn't give a clear answer on licenses, the fact that he supported it was in the question itself!
Vote for me because you know my name and I'm going to get revenge on the republicans and conservatives. That argument is only going to work as long as people just don't care what happens to this country. People that do care will look at the other candidates. Just because you can't figure out Clinton's positions doesn't mean you can't simply go to the Obama campaign web site and read what is clearly stated there about his positions. Can't find the answer to your specific question - ask!
its amazing but didnt hillary change her position on discussion or meetings with americas enemies.OBAMA was the 1st to say it and his polls went down. why is CNN not drawing attention to this .isnt it ironic.OBJECTIVITY
Does anyone else worry that if the Democrats nominate Hillary and the Republicans nominate Huckabee, we'll have a repeat of 2000?
Well connected insider with liberal background (but moved to centrist position as the election drew nearer) versus a folksy, likeable Southern governor with a good story. We know how that story ends...
I know that the country is different, but the Supreme Court isn't and I'm not convinced the electoral map is all that different.
Now, Bill Richardson would really upset the Republican playbook and alter the electoral map.
Hillary Clinton had an opportunity to undo the damage to her campaign done by PARSING-gate, PLANTING-gate and hiding her first lady records in lock and key.
She did nothing to repair that damage. Instead she went for irrelevant stuff that the media will sing for 2 days until something better comes up. And after that, she'll still have to explain to Iowans why they should trust a politician who invented Plants For Hillary, who authorized a disastrous war without reading the national intelligence estimate and who wants to be hired for a job but is not willing to disclose her resume.
If the Clintons who have ran 2 national campaigns before, can't break away from a candidate who's been campaigning for only 9 months, then she's more vulnerable than anyone woud've thought.